Social Media Marketing has been something that has been evolving and continues to grow over the next decade. This growth can be hard to keep up with as marketers look to find the best ways to sell their products and make use of social media channels. Youngsters change, are fickle, and change their allegiances very quickly. I look at what trends you can expect over the next decade.
2019 has not been the best year for Facebook. The fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal is still apparent. As there is a ramp-up to the next US presidential election campaign, then all eyes are going to be on Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg’s company has been trying to tighten up its news platform and eliminate paid for political content. While Facebook’s user population is still robust, younger users seem to be moving away from the platform. Facebook does have some ambitious plans, though, so let me run through them for you.
At the moment, Facebook is working on its own cryptocurrency called Libra, and have been for several years now. However, many of its backers have recently moved away from the project. Although Facebook is committed to delivering the new technology, this might not be the savior that Facebook once hoped it would be. Facebook wants a payment platform built-in to help eliminate banking fees and other costs to its processing. It has already rolled out Facebook Pay in the US and is looking to roll out WhatsApp Pay in India and Indonesia. It wants this technology to facilitate users sending money back home without paying fees, and this might well keep users on the platform.
Adding live video streaming to the platform was intended to drive Facebook into the future. However, it has yet to see it take off. While it has seen some 140 million people daily consuming over 1 minute of content, this pales in comparison to its 1.6 billion daily active users. Other content providers such as Netflix, YouTube, Disney, and Amazon have seen their consumption grow, but Facebook hasn’t. This lack of growth might be since people can consume that content on their home TV sets. Streaming is something that Facebook hasn’t been able to crack yet. However, Facebook is attempting to address this with products such as Portal, which should help to bridge the gap.
AR technology has been growing in popularity over the last few years, and anyone who takes advantage of this trend will stand to gain much. The AR trend is led by popular Snapchat filters such as the gender swap filter, which took the internet by storm earlier in the year. This trend was followed up by the age changing filter, which again was a popular trend for a while. A marketer who can spot and identify the next big AR trend stands to generate a lot of influence. Apple, Facebook, and Google are looking at creating stand-alone AR products, and these will be ripe to be taken advantage of over the next few years following release.
Instagram has remained the trending social media platform of 2019, and this looks to continue well into the next decade. The focus for Instagram during 2019 was on user health and wellbeing. This trend will continue for some time. Instagram also started to roll out its eCommerce options in 2019. These solutions are beginning to open doors for monetization during the coming years. Something that marketers will want to be all over as it becomes accepted by the community. I look at what you can expect from Instagram
Instagram launched its threads messaging app to help connect friends on Instagram through group messaging. One of the critical features of this app is the ability for it to let your friends know what you are up to even when you are not using the app. This feature is an attempt by Instagram to challenge Snapchat’s core use case. However, given that you can already direct messages in-app, having a separate app that does similar things isn’t going to be hugely popular.
Video chatting has been rising in popularity, particularly amongst the important youngster demographics, and this is something that Instagram wants to tap into soon. This popularity is particularly true with group video chats and the ability to drop into someone else’s video stream. Instagram recently added the ability to add live-stream guests, and this is proving popular. Guest video streaming is a feature that Facebook recently removed, but it could work much better on Instagram as it is better suited to the platform.
IGTV is something that we can expect to see Instagram heavily promoting over the next few years. IGTV is somewhat like Facebook Watch, but following the success of Snapchat’s Discover and applications like TikTok, then you can bet that Instagram will want to challenge. Short pieces of user-generated video content are all the rage now, and this is something that will continue to rise. Of course, brands are looking to take advantage of this trend, and therefore we will see marketing continue the platform. IGTV will be something to keep an eye on in the coming years.
The most significant trend for Twitter over the past year has been on its perception. It made a substantial change to how it reports its user counts. Rather than just saying monthly and daily active user numbers, it has switched to a statistic; it calls “monetizable daily active users.” This data is a much more telling statistic for marketeers to reference as this highlight’s active daily users to which ads and other monetizable options are capable of being displayed. This switch also allows Twitter to do things like removing bots without it hurting its reported active user statistics. I look at what other trends you can expect on the platform.
‘Topical Discussions’ was a big introduction for Twitter over the last year. It allows users to follow specific topics of interest rather than just individual twitter users. This means that they can expose themselves to a broader range of tweets and twitter users. While experienced twitter users are not too bothered about this new feature, it opens accessibility to new users and allows them to connect to people much easier. While the list of topics currently available is not extensive, this is an area that is ripe for growth and can be taken advantage of by critical marketers.
Narrowcast is a feature that Twitter has already highlighted is on the road map. This feature allows Twitter users to limit the audience for their tweets. You will be able to tweet to just selected hashtags or groups of users as well as prevent the ability for your tweets to be retweeted. This could have a momentous impact on how twitter is used, particularly for marketers. You would be able to deliver different marketing messages for different demographics and use tweets that have much narrower appeal. This is great, particularly if you have polarising content. You would be able to target it towards just those people that would appreciate it. This change is going to be significant on the landscape for marketing and will need to be taken advantage of soon.
Twitter has continuously shifted its focus when it comes to live video streaming. One day they were promoting it a lot, the next day it was gone. We know that it is coming back as Twitter looks to live-stream much of the 2020 Olympics. However, Twitter is still looking at the best way to integrate its platform with live television. Knowing that 94% of people have a smartphone to hand while they are watching live tv demonstrated that there is an angle in them somewhere for people to interact with shows in progress. Twitter has long been a place for seeing breaking reactions unfold, and it just needs to work out the best way to take advantage of this and then monetize the outcome.
In direct contrast to Facebook, Twitter long ago announced it would ban political advertising on its platform. However, this seems to be much more of a grey area than they expected. Activist groups and other quasi-political organizations are still opening defying Twitter’s rules and exploiting every loophole in their policy that they can find. Hence, Twitter is always going to have a political element, even if it isn’t the most blatantly obvious one. The upcoming US elections are going to be a trying time for the platform, and mistakes made here will be felt harshly by the Twitter community.
2019 might well have been the year that Snapchat stopped being the rebellious teenager that it once was and started to become the adult that it always should have been. This hasn’t been significant in terms of its user base. It hasn’t seen much more than average growth. However, its revenue base has grown significantly. In the next few paragraphs, I take a look at what we can expect from Snapchat in the next few years.
Much like some of the other platforms mentioned, the rise of video is key to the future of Snapchat. The launch of its Discover series of short video content has been massive for the platform over the last year, and this is a trend that will continue going forward. This growth means that there is an opportunity for advertising around the video content to be utilized. Snapchat has been savvy about the way it has handled its video content. Not seeking to compete with the likes of YouTube or even more mainstream video providers like Disney or Netflix instead, it has gone for a different market altogether, and this is a risk that seems to be paying off in spades for the company. Episodic content on the platform will only grow with a likely revamp of the platform due soon, get in now to take advantage.
The AR Challenge
Snapchat scored some critical victories with AR in 2019. The gender swap filter was a meme phenomenon in 2019, breaking out all over the world and being featured on television and in the popular press as well as just an internet trend. The age altering filter followed this up with another great function and made sure that everyone was aware of AR. Now people are looking to see what Snapchat will do with it next. We now know that Snapchat filed a patent to develop some AR enable glasses back in 2015. Reports suggest that it also bought a Chinese factory so that it could develop these in secret away from the prying eyes of western media. However, so far, we are yet to see any evidence of the finished product. If a product like this does come out, then the ability to plant advertising into someone’s real-world vision would be a possibility, and something like that would mean a massive potential for marketers. They need to handle it right not to alienate consumers, though.
Social media will continue to evolve over the next decade, and while a lot of trends can be spotted and prepared for, there are bound to be at least one or two significant trends that will come out of nowhere.
Regardless of how things develop, marketers need to stay on top of a rapidly evolving market to be able to take advantage. The platform makers themselves are helping this. They are looking to make changes to the way their platforms are used and monetized. Things like hiding the follower count on Instagram will mean opening the platform to more experimental content and content that doesn’t just appeal to the highest number of users. Targeting content to specific user groups and demographics is always going to be crucial and will allow for the maximum return on investment when it comes to marketing. I, for one, look forward to seeing what the future brings.